Dodgers went local with first-ever pick
Bakersfield High School infielder never made it to 'the Show'
LOS ANGELES -- The Dodgers farm system seems to always be stacked with prospects at every level.Even before there was a draft, Dodgers scouts and those making the draft decisions have had remarkable success over the years. Once the amateur draft came around in 1965, Los Angeles seemed to have a knack for finding great players, drafting everyone from Mike Scioscia to Steve Garvey. Of course, in 1965, the first year Major League Baseball had an amateur draft, people within the sport were still feeling out the process. Longtime scout Gail Henley said at that time, they didn't even have someone to crosscheck the prospects. They would draft players on the judgment and good word of one local scout. "In this case, John Wyatt was maybe seen by Al Campanis and that's it," said Henley, about the Dodgers first general manager, a position Campanis held with the Dodgers from 1968-87. Whoever saw Wyatt -- out of Bakersfield High School in California in 1965 -- they must have liked what they saw. The infielder was 6-foot-2, 200 pounds, batted left and threw right. "They thought he had some tools," said Henley about Wyatt. "But apparently he didn't have everything that was required of him." Not only did they think he had some tools, where he grew up likely had something to do with the club making Wyatt the eighth pick in 1965. When the draft first came into being, teams focused much of their energy on picking players who were local. Bakersfield High School is a little over 100 miles north of Los Angeles, so along with his talent, picking Wyatt made a lot of sense. The records show that the 17-year-old signed with the Dodgers and spent his first year in Pocatello, Idaho, playing in the Pioneer League. Wyatt played in 66 games for the Chiefs, hitting .246 with three home runs, 26 RBIs and 22 stolen bases. Henley thinks Wyatt made it out of rookie ball in the Pioneer League, and finished his career in the California League. That was as far as this first-round pick got in baseball. "In the case of the draft, there are many, many first-round picks that just don't click," said Henley, who now scouts for Kansas City. Wyatt, for whatever reason, didn't make his way to the Majors. It has happened to so many baseball players over many years, and for many different reasons. Where John Wyatt is concerned, the reason is unclear. But Wyatt's story shows that no matter what round a player gets picked in, the road to the big leagues is never an easy one.
Amanda Branam is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.